“Can’t you see?! You’ve divorced her in your heart.”
-“Christian” Lay Counselor
Such a statement is highly irresponsible. It is like waving catnip in front of a cheater. They are likely to take this statement and go forth to act as if they are truly not married (even though they are). A “Christian” leader trying to “help” couples is partnering with the Father of Lies when he or she says such a thing to a troubled couple.
The Christian leader has just declared the marriage dead. This is a ready-made “excuse”–rather lie–for a cheater to latch onto when violating their marriage vows in cheating either emotionally, physically, or both. He already divorced me in heart after all. So, this can’t be wrong.
Plus, this is clearly dumb and unchristian counsel. We are not divorced simply based on how we feel one day or another. That is not how a true Christian marriage or civil society works. One does not enjoy the legal benefits of marriage until one is legally married. Being married “in the heart” does not cut it. Same thing goes for being “divorced in the heart.” You cannot remarry because you “divorced in the heart” but never actually filed the paperwork. Trying to do that is called bigamy and is a crime!
Sex outside of marriage is called fornication. It is a sin (see Hebrews 13:4). Being “married in the heart” only and having sex still means one is sinning by fornicating. That is what traditional Christianity teaches. You have to actually get married to be married!
Making a marriage official civilly or in one’s respective community matters to God clearly. Such is the difference between sinning or glorifying God sexually in a relationship. The same idea applies to talking divorce. It matters whether or not the divorce is official. One is bound by the vows until one is officially released from said vows. Being married or divorced is not a subjective matter.
This “in the heart” nonsense is just a way the Father of Lies entices people into sin.
Another reason I consider such an observation as ungodly and unchristian is how it erodes godly commitment to the marriage. Why fight for such a marriage if it is truly dead as the word “divorced” suggests?! Why fight to be faithful to one’s spouse if such marriage vows are essentially declared void since one is ‘divorced’ already–even if only “in the heart?”
The statement that a couple is divorced in the heart does not flow from a Christian understanding of marriage. Such words do not come from the covenant mindset God teaches His people marriage is (see Malachi 2 and Mark 10). It flows from the pagan mindset that marriage comes or goes based based on feelings and not commitments.
So, if you find yourself facing a pastor or other Christian leader making such an observation, I would suggest sharing your own observation…
Christian Leader: “Can’t you see?! You’ve divorced her in your heart.”
You: “Well, with that sort of a statement, I can see we did not come to someone actually offering Christian counsel. Buh-bye!”